Expression Interrupted

Journalists and academics bear the brunt of the massive crackdown on freedom of expression in Turkey. Scores of them are currently subject to criminal investigations or behind bars. This website is dedicated to tracking the legal process against them.

Journalists Pınar Gayıp and Mehmet Acettin given jail term

Journalists Pınar Gayıp and Mehmet Acettin given jail term

Court suspends the sentence of 6 months and 7 days in prison for Gayıp but rules for no grounds for suspending the sentence for Acettin

CANSU PİŞKİN, İSTANBUL

The fourth hearing in the trial of Etkin News Agency (ETHA) editor Pınar Gayıp and agency shareholder Mehmet Acettin on the charge of “publicly denigrating the state of the Republic of Turkey” was held at the İstanbul 2nd Criminal Court of First Instance on 28 March 2024.

Journalists’ lawyer Sezin Uçar was present at the hearing, which P24 monitored. Gayıp and Acettin did not attend the hearing.

In the final opinion on the case presented at the previous hearing, the prosecutor had requested sentencing for Gayıp and Acettin.

Lawyer Sezin Uçar, who presented a counterstatement against the opinion said, “We do not agree with the indictment in terms of its content and the sentencing requested through the argumentation.” Lawyer Uçar said that elements of the impugned crime had not formed in the contents of the news items subject to the trial, adding that the actions of her clients came under the freedom of the press and requested their acquittal.

The court sentenced Pınar Gayıp to 6 months and 7 days of imprisonment for the crime of “repeatedly denigrating the Turkish nation, the state of the Republic of Turkey and institutions and organs of the state.” The verdict was grounded on the manner the crime was committed; the significance and value of the object of crime; the severity of the resulting consequence and weight of the defendant’s intent. The court opined that Gayıp would not reoffend, therefore suspended the sentence and ruled for Gayıp to be placed under probation for a year.

The court sentenced Mehmet Acettin to 7 months and 15 days of imprisonment. The court did not suspend Acettin’s sentencing due to his previous convictions for crimes with intent.

Background of the case

Gayıp carried out an interview with the intern lawyer who was the victim of abuse, after lawyer Sezgin Keleş had been sentenced to imprisonment for sexually abusing an intern lawyer. In February 2022, Keleş filed a criminal complaint against ETHA with the Terrorism and Organized Crime Investigations Office and claimed that ETHA “carried out terrorist organization propaganda, praised the terrorist organization and its members and insulted the state” in his petition.

Upon Keleş’s criminal complaint, the prosecutor’s office filed an indictment against Gayıp and Mehmet Acettin, one of the partners of the agency, on the charge of “publicly denigrating the state of the Republic of Turkey.” The indictment was accepted by the İstanbul 2nd Criminal Court of First Instance.

At the third hearing of the trial held on 8 February 2024, the prosecutor presented their final opinion on the case and requested sentencing for Gayıp and Acettin for the impugned crime.

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